Lincoln – Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw three touchdown passes to become Nebraska’s career leader in that category and ran for another score, as the Huskers soared to a 52-17 win over visiting Wyoming on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
With the victory, Nebraska improved to 2-0 while playing in front of the NCAA-record 349th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium and an ESPN2 national television audience. Wyoming slipped to 1-1.
For the second straight week, Nebraska got off to a fast start and finished even stronger, dominating the Cowboys after jumping to a 17-0 first-half lead.
After Wyoming cut the Husker lead to 24-17 heading into the fourth quarter, the Big Red erupted. Nebraska outscored the Cowboys 28-0 over the next 10 minutes, starting with Armstrong’s 34-yard scoring strike to senior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp.
The touchdown tied Armstrong with his predecessor Taylor Martinez for the Nebraska career record with 56 touchdown passes.
The Cowboys then let the game get out of hand. On their first play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive, quarterback Josh Allen threw a screen pass behind running back Brian Hill. Nebraska defensive end Ross Dzuris scooped up the backward lateral and rumbled to the one-yard line. It set up a one-yard Devine Ozigbo run to push the Big Red’s lead to 38-17 with 12:59 left. Ozigbo finished the day as NU’s leading rusher with 44 yards on 15 carries and a score.
That turnover was the third of the game for a Wyoming team that did not commit a turnover in its first six quarters of the 2016 season.
Things just got worse for the Cowboys.
On Wyoming’s next drive, Nebraska senior safety Nathan Gerry intercepted Nebraska’s third pass of the half, which set up a nine-yard touchdown pass to Westerkamp that give Armstrong sole possession of the school record for scores through the air at 57. Armstrong finished his record-setting day by completing 20-of-34 passes for 377 yards and three scores. He did throw one first-half interception.
On the ensuing drive, Chris Jones intercepted another Allen pass and returned it to the Wyoming 35. One play later, Ryker Fyfe hit Gabe Rahn with a 35-yard scoring strike to finish off the Cowboys and give the Huskers the 52-17 win. Rahn’s first career reception pushed Nebraska beyond 400 passing yards on the day.
The Blackshirts weren’t done inflicting a miserable second half on the Cowboy offense, as Gerry pulled down his second interception of the game. It was Gerry’s 11th career interception to move into a tie for fourth on Nebraska’s career list.
Nebraska, which outscored Wyoming 28-0 in the fourth quarter, has owned the final period of each of its first two games this season by a total of 50-0. The Huskers opened with a 22-0 fourth quarter against Fresno State a week ago.
While Armstrong and the offense amassed 550 total yards, including 412 passing and 138 rushing yards on 42 carries, the Blackshirts set the tone for the second half by forcing six turnovers including five interceptions. The Husker defense surrendered 320 total yards, including just 131 on the ground.
Nebraska also held Allen to just 16-of-32 passing for 189 yards. In the second half, Allen completed just 6-of-16 passes for 55 yards with five interceptions.
The first interception of the game for the Blackshirts came from Aaron Williams, which thwarted Wyoming’s second drive of the second half inside the Husker 35, after the Cowboys had cut NU’s lead to 17-10 with a field goal on the opening drive of the half.
The Huskers were unable to capitalize on the interception, but Wyoming’s next possession was an immediate disaster. At their own 10, the Cowboys threw an incompletion, before Kieron Williams intercepted another Allen pass and raced from the Wyoming sideline to the Husker sideline and into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown return to put Nebraska back up 24-10.
Wyoming regained its composure and marched 76 yards in six plays over the next 3:13 to cut the Husker margin to 24-17 heading into the decisive fourth quarter.
Nebraska used big plays in the passing game to jump to a 17-0 first-half lead. The biggest came on a 63-yard touchdown strike from Armstrong to Alonzo Moore that put NU up 17-0. It was Moore’s third reception of the game for a career-high 109 yards.
Earlier in the half, Armstrong hit Westerkamp on a short pass that turned into a 55-yard reception and put Westerkamp over 2,000 receiving yards in his career. Westerkamp finished with four catches for 105 yards to give the Huskers their third game in the past three season with a pair of 100-yard receivers. Prior to those three games, it had never happened in Husker history.
Brandon Reilly added a 38-yard reception in the first quarter and Ozigbo contributed a 39-yard catch in the first half to help the Huskers.
But the Cowboys came up with a 35-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-12 from Allen to Tanner Gentry with eight seconds left in the first half to head to the locker room with some momentum despite trailing 17-7. Gentry finished with seven receptions for 124 yards for the Cowboys.
Nebraska continues its season-opening three-game home stand by taking on Oregon on Saturday, Sept. 17. Kick-off with the Ducks is set for 2:30 p.m.
Nebraska 52, Wyoming 17
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, Neb.)
First Quarter (NEB 7-0)
NEB 6:12 – Tommy Armstrong Jr. 7 run (Drew Brown PAT), 7 plays, 97 yards, 3:05, NEB 7-0
Second Quarter (NEB 17-7)
NEB 9:07 – Brown 29 FG, 9 plays, 52 yards, 3:58, NEB 10-0
NEB 5:57 – Alonzo Moore 63 pass from Armstrong (Brown PAT) 3 plays, 66 yards, 1:16, NEB 17-0
WYO 0:08 – Tanner Gentry 35 pass from Josh Allen (Cooper Rothe PAT) 5 plays, 52 yards, 0:44, NEB 17-7
Third Quarter (NEB 24-17)
WYO 11:08 – Rothe 27 FG 10 plays, 65 yards, 3:52, NEB 17-10
NEB 4:48 – Kieron Williams 23 INT return (Brown PAT), NEB 24-10
WYO 1:35 – Hill 1 run (Rothe PAT) 6 plays, 76 yards, 3:06, NEB 24-17
Fourth Quarter (NEB 52-17)
NEB 13:11 – Jordan Westerkamp 34 pass from Armstrong (Brown PAT), 8 plays, 76 yards, 3:17 NEB 31-17
NEB 12:59 – Devine Ozigbo 1 run (Brown PAT), 1 play, 1 yard, 0:04, NEB 38-17
NEB 7:28 – Jordan Westerkamp 9 pass from Armstrong (Brown PAT), 10 plays, 53 yards, 4:48, NEB 45-17
NEB 5:15 – Gabe Rahn 35 pass from Ryker Fife (Brown PAT), 1 play, 35 yards, 0:09, NEB 52-17
Time of Game: 3;25
Game Start: 11:01 a.m.